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What Kind of Memory Does My Computer Have Installed?

If you are looking to upgrade the memory in your computer, you are probably wondering how many open slots you have, what type of memory is already installed, and what you need to buy for an upgrade… without having to open your computer.

Since you shouldn’t have to open up the computer just to figure out what you have installed, here’s a couple of options for detecting the type of memory already installed in your system.

Using System Information for Windows

This very useful free application should be a standard in any geek’s toolkit. It comes bundled as a single file, no installation required.

Once you open it up, navigate to Hardware and then Memory on the left-hand pane, and you’ll see what type of memory is already installed in your computer. Looks like my system supports 4GB of memory, and I have two 1GB DDR2 modules already installed and running at 533Mhz. It also lets me know that I need the SODIMM form factor memory, since this is a laptop and all.

image

Using this information, I should be able to find the correct memory upgrade, which in this case would be two 2GB DDR2 533mhz modules if I wanted to upgrade to 4GB of memory.

The only question is whether I can install faster memory than the memory already installed, which leads us into our next option.

Download System Information for Windows (scroll to bottom for free version)

NOTE: the installer has some “special offers”. Make sure to click Decline when it asks if you want to install them.

Using the Crucial Memory Advisor

Memory manufacturer Crucial has put together an amazing website, combined with an optional system scanner tool that will detect the memory already installed in your computer the same way System Information for Windows does… It’s just not as geeky.

On their homepage, there’s the two options… if you’ve already figured out the memory you have installed, you can use the drop-down menus on the right to select your system.

image

They will give you some great information about what your computer can support, along with a list of questions and answers. Turns out I can upgrade to faster PC2-5300 memory if I wanted…

image

If you chose the system scanner route, you’ll be redirected to a web page showing you the current memory configuration, and what they recommend for upgrading, although they seem to give you less information on this screen.

image

I’m not sure that you necessarily want to buy memory from Crucial directly since you could probably get a better price elsewhere, but their memory advisor is extremely useful to figure out what you need.

Crucial Memory Advisor

Other Options

  • You can look up the specs for your system to figure out what memory types your computer takes. I usually google for “modelnumber specs”, for instance I’d type in “nc8430 specs”.
  • You can use some of the other memory advisors, like Kingston or PNY, but their sites are a bit less useful.
  • Pull out the manual for your computer or motherboard, and take a look at your receipts to figure out what you bought last time.
  • If you built a computer with parts from Newegg, you can look at your order history to re-order the exact same memory module if you know you have empty slots. (This is exactly the route I chose last month)
  • If you are running Mac OS X, you can just look under your “About this Mac” and then click on More Info.

Upgrading the memory in your computer is the fastest way to better performance in Windows Vista. I’d recommend 2GB of RAM for Vista, but don’t bother going over 3GB if you are using 32-bit Vista or XP because Windows won’t be able to use all of it.

Lowell Heddings, better known online as the How-To Geek, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 09/13/07

Comments (50)

  1. Brandon

    SIW’s memory data is not always 100% accurate. On my computer, it tells me I have 2 slots. I know for fact that I have 4.

  2. jambarama

    On linux you can just run (as root from a terminal) dmidecode for all of your hardware specs. AFAIK dmidecode is on literally every *nix machine I’ve touched. It’ll give you a huge list of crap, if you want to save the output just type “dmidecode > output.txt” replacing output.txt with whatever file name you want. If you just want memory speed to show up in the terminal just grep the output (something like “dmidecode|grep “Current Speed” and your CPU and RAM speeds should show up).

  3. GTD Wannabe

    Thanks for this post. I always have trouble figuring out what RAM to buy. I normally open the box, take out the old stuff, take it to the store and say, “I’d like more of this please.” Thanks!

  4. ak03

    umm… could you edit your article to put the url of the that one website?

  5. The Geek

    The url of what site?

  6. ak03

    Well, i don’t think im an idiot (maybe i am) But i know see it (the url for the web version of “Crucial memory adviser.” I think it’s just the long days.

  7. Ihoss

    I just found out that the calculator in windows will tell you how much ram you have. Click Start>Programs>Accessories>Calculator. Then click help>about, and at the bottom of the dialog it will say how much ram you have. Probably the fastest way to check it in windows :)

  8. ecartman

    thanks for the info on LInux jambarama. forgot that one. Funny not even on my windoze machine would I run IE.

    Cart

  9. Brandon

    @Ihoss there are several quicker ways to see how much memory is installed. Here’s a couple

    WinKey+Break

    OR

    right click “My Computer” and choose properties

  10. Andrew Nagy

    Hi. Crucial’s tool is pretty good, but unfortunately for anyone running any browser besides IE, it won’t work. I work for another memory company, 4allmemory.com, and like a few other memory companies, we also have a memory advisor tool that does the exact same thing, and also works on FF. Not to mention we generally have better prices. :)

  11. The Geek

    @Andrew:

    Crucial’s website works perfectly in Firefox, and is far superior to any other site out there.

    They also have an automated detection tool which you can download and run, doesn’t even require restarting your browser or installing a plugin into Firefox, which is probably a bad idea.

  12. Andrew Nagy

    @ The Geek:

    Crucial’s website works fine in Firefox, but not the scanning tool. If you try to run it in FF it tells you to download an external .exe file which you can then run locally which then sends you to the appropriate page on their site. The point I was trying to make with my comment was simply to point out that Crucial doesn’t have the monopoly on this kind of technology and there are several sites out there that can offer the same thing.

    Secondly, our tool (and many other similar tools out there) do not require restarting the browser, and while it does install a plugin into FF, it does not save it and uninstalls itself immediately afterwards.

  13. The Geek

    I had actually mentioned in my article that there are other similar sites, I just found the crucial site the most user friendly, which is why I wrote about it.

    I was unable to get the browser tool from your site to work under firefox, I’m assuming because I don’t run Firefox as administrator. Here’s the error I’m getting:

    “Firefox could not install the file at http://w4s2.work4sure.com/c/ge/w4sgeen9.xpi because unexpected installation error”

    I’ve got no personal preference for Crucial, I buy wherever gives me the best deal.

  14. Andrew Nagy

    Fair enough. You’re probably right about the admin issue with FF and our scanner. I’ll see if I can get the development team to look into it.

  15. Alison

    Very useful. But now I know what memory to buy, how do I install it?

  16. Want to change my mem

    Brandon.. what are you saying about this WinKey+Break?? i don’t really understand what you’re saying.. can you like.. explain it more easily?? and you know about the finding your like, computer number to find out the information about your computer? what if it doesn’t tell you no nothing…

  17. nitin

    What Brandon means is..use the combination of 2 keys, press and hold windows key (next to ctrl key) and press the ‘Pause key’ you would get the system properties box with memory info.

  18. CJ

    ok… i installed the SIW or something… it’s awsome… i actually got informations i needed… Also.. it was very helpful because i couldn’t get in to my bro’s computer because it was one of those small computers…i had to know what type of memory he had.. but this SIW really helped out.. he had DDR2 something…. Thanks.. oh yea.. by the way.. can you guys help me out with some type of game? i know it’s a bit off topic but.. it would be awsome if this site can disscuss about games..

  19. GFreak

    SIW gives great info, very helpful!
    SIW properly identifies size of installed RAM, # slots used and available, max size of ram for my MB… but doesn’t tell me speed of my current memory. (Just tells me DDR, synchronous DRAM)
    Crucial website tells me speeds and sizes compatible with my MB, but not speed of what I have installed already.
    I’ll boot Knoppix and try dmidecode, I guess?

  20. Miguel 'The Genius" Snow

    This is free and simple to use, look it up. Their site will give you a key to make it run for free.

    Emsaflex info pro

    It is as detailed as can be.

    Ciao,
    Miguel

  21. PDA Guy

    Great info. RAM is the best way to speed up your PC for sure but make sure you also do a reg scan and spyware scan to make sure your system’s optimal. Even with the extra ram, these things will eventually kill your performance again.

  22. commincents

    crucial scanner does not work on my 64bit vista premium….the beta for crucial scanner 64 bit just bsod me :(

  23. Tim

    Great article and posts. I know mine is DDR2 (
    HP Model M8200n), but I think it has teh PC5300 dimms, how do I know which one it is? (5300, 6400, 8500, etc…)
    Thanks

  24. Middleman

    I tried using SIW, but it didn’t work. I looked and I see no field that denotes memory speed.

  25. bobbie

    I don’t have internet on my computer and wont for three to six weeks, but my brother in law is buying me some more memory… for some reason my computer does not have windows help and support so the system information will not come up. Is there any other way to tell what type of memory my system runs.

  26. AlphaMagus

    Thanks for the info SIW is great. I don’t know what kinda crack people are smoking but the speed of my RAM is shown right beside the field that says “speed” It tells me that I have DDR2 800 and PC2-6400. There is a problem though, it says that my max capacity and max module size is 2GB but adding up my 2 x 2GB sticks gives me 4GB. Is this because I’m running dual channel? maybe……..

  27. Marty

    I used the SIW and it worked great for finding the info I needed. But….is it a one-time-run only program? I thought I had downloaded it….and wanted to go run it again….but I don’t see it on my desk-top or in my program files…..

  28. dinesh

    Just type in MSINFO32 in the run box and system info will open.

  29. Tom

    Crucial’s utility does not work on my Vista box (Dell Inspiron 530). It keeps reporting that no memory is installed. An e-mail to Crucial tech support led nowhere.

  30. chas

    hi i was wondering how much more memory can i add to my computor ! desktop acer aspire t137
    serial numb dqh-qpp97-p3wtk-82vpp-2d88q.and what type of memory i need(.alittle ballon pops up and says your computor is running low on memory ! please add more memory !!)
    tower is only 2& half yrs old.
    i dont know if you need any more details please let me know if so
    .thank you
    ——————————————————————————–

  31. Vanessa

    We have a compaq laptop w p/n RQ337UA#ABA. It came with Windows Vista Home Basic. I need Microsoft office suite. I have the office suite program, but when I tried to load it to the laptop, it would never complete. My though is that there isn’t enough of something/memory, etc.. to hold it. Please advise what to do. Thank you in advance.

  32. tim

    Thanks for the forum you guys! SIW rocks! The “secrets” box was interesting to open — I realise perhaps I should consider upgrading the Human Memory Module, before spending money on my notebook ??

  33. C

    Great tips!

    All computer users should be aware at the capability and limitations of their own computer. To be able to maximize the capacity of your own PC, one must know the specs of the unit first and the capacity it would be able to handle.Information or knowledge would definitely make a big difference in one’s computing experience.

  34. Rosa

    how do i get free memory for my pc.

  35. LYNDA PRESLEY

    I used an error fix program on my computer to speed it up and it has wiped out my calulator how do i find it in my system

  36. bojest

    my version of SIW doesn’t display form factor under the memory info. i am using a laptop so i know it’s sodim, but other’s may not be aware of that.

  37. Devil-Dog

    Ahhh, couldn’t have made it easier

  38. Sealy

    Thank you!!! That was so much easier than expected.

  39. Andz

    This was great..! Love it!!!

  40. Frank D

    excellent!, very helpful thanks!

  41. Sue

    My system information doesn’t look like this. I have a Gateway with Pentium 4 CPU 1.50GHz 1.50 GH, 256 MB of RAM. I have 2 sticks of RAM & a spot for 1 more. My daughter bought me an upgrade. Do I have to take out the other 2 when I put that in? When we put it in, the mouse & the monitor doesn’t come on. So we took it back out. My daughter ordered it especially for my PC. Another thing I’d like to know is what else do I need to do to make my computer go faster. I keep the files cleaned out & defrag when it says to. Help.

  42. Luca

    Great!

    this helped a lot to let me choose which ram and how much I had to buy!

  43. Shlomi

    Thanks a lot! Great article! :-)

  44. Dean

    How could I find information about “Product Line” and “Model” of PC??

  45. antgaudi

    That’s weird..I checked both System Information for Windows and Crucial Memory Advisor to see if I can add memory to my laptop and both gave different results..

    SIW says I can hold up to 4MB total and CMA says I can only hold 1MB on each slot (2MB total)…

    SIW:
    Maximum Capacity 4096 MBytes
    Device Locator Slot 1
    Manufacturer Micron Technology
    Part Number 16VDDF12864HY335D2
    Serial Number DB14180B
    Capacity 1024 MBytes
    Memory Type DDR (PC2700)
    Speed 166 MHz
    Device Locator Slot 2
    Manufacturer Micron Technology
    Part Number 16VDDF12864HY335D2
    Serial Number DB141854
    Capacity 1024 MBytes
    Memory Type DDR (PC2700)
    Speed 166 MHz

    CMA:
    Currently installed memory:
    1GBDDR PC2700
    1GBDDR PC2700
    Each memory slot can hold DDR PC3200, DDR PC2700 with a maximum of 1GB per slot.

    So which one would be more accurate? Can I install 4MB? I have a HP Pavilion dv5139us. Thanks!

  46. Carolyn

    I was given a notebook — don’t know the brand — can’t find it. When I pull up the google mail it says I don’t have enough memory to run the application. This is what is on the box
    Processor VIA 8505
    RAm 128MB (up to 256MB)
    Main storage: 2GB Flash
    WLAN: WIFE 802.11b/g

    Can you help?

  47. Abraham

    I use Speccy, a free app from the same people who make CCleaner (Piriform, makes them both). Speccy.com for more info.

    p.s. I’m not affiliated with Piriform in any way, I just like their products.

  48. Akbar Ahmadzai

    Hi My Dears
    i am An IT Assistant in a company i have a big problem with my New HP color laser jet 4525 printer when i print a Document it print an error like this
    pcl xl error
    error: missing data
    Operator: Read image
    position: 97 some time it 267-718 …. etc
    Note: some time it print correctcally one r two documents after that it print the same error msg what do i do….. ??????
    please help me i m waiting to yours reply i am in a big problem

  49. Anonymous

    I really liked the Crucial memory scanner. It tells you exactly what you need, how much more RAM you can install, and even lines up the right RAM for you to buy. I compared their prices to Best Buy, and it was the same, and I had the assurance that this was the exact right type for my system, so I went with them. Very handy service, got me an answer quickly, and I’m good to go. Free shipping, too! Very highly recommended. Thanks for the tip!

  50. 389 poncho

    I find the Crucial scanner and info to always be “dead on”.

    I do also like SIW also for most things. It’s just that memory information is pretty iffy “at times”. It says that my Dell Dimension 3000 has a max memory of 4gb. That is just not true. It’s a good entry level, 2 slot PC that is and always will have a max of 2gb by design.

    My Dell E510 – SIW shows warnings, red X’s, yellow exclamation marks and reads “wrong values reported by BIOS!!”. But both BIOS and Windows show no memory problems whatsoever. So I went right to Dell with it, and was told everything shows perfect; AND it also goes like a rocket! [2x2gb Kingston]

    Accurate memory info is just not one of SIW’s strong suits. Good for all else though [:)

    T’care,
    Mike

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